Laptops tend to have a fairly short lifespan. They are obsolete within weeks of release, are notoriously difficult to upgrade or repair, and are inherently prone to gradual breakdown or fatal accidents. . After damage has been done, repairs are usually only slightly cheaper than buying a new model.

These very unfavorable conditions — not only for laptops, but also for most other electronic devices — cause a lot of e-waste. . However, some laptop problems are easier to fix than you might expect. This quick troubleshooting guide highlights the most likely corruption, looks at ways to identify the culprit, and links to material that demonstrates how to fix it.

We previously provided similar guides for desktops. Find out what parts can fail and what to do about them Find out what parts can fail and what to do about them Find out what parts can fail and what to do more about them and how to diagnose hardware problems when your computer won’t turn on diagnose hardware problems when your computer won’t turn on . Finally, you can turn to some online resources to learn how to fix your computer. to learn how to fix your computer. to learn how to fix your

Some things can’t be fixed

There are some important parts of a laptop that are very difficult and expensive to fix. They include the motherboard and everything molded onto it, including the CPU (Central Processing Unit) and GPU (GPU). If you are sure one of them is broken, skip to the end of this article. For your next laptop, however, note that you can prevent CPU and GPU damage by making sure they don’t overheat.

CPU heatsink

Operating system

Symptoms: If your laptop sounds normal, if the disk drive works and the display turns on but the system doesn’t boot completely, the problem may be related to the operating system.

Correction: if you’re on Windows, you can try starting in safe mode. run in safe mode to diagnose and potentially fix the problem. It may be a faulty driver or a corrupted registry. Instead of spending hours fixing the operating system, it’s better to reinstall it. You can back up data from a computer that does not boot back up data from a computer that does not boot back up data from a computer that does not boot using Linux Live CD/USB


Your hard drive or solid state drive is the home of your operating system and stores all of your data on your computer.

Symptoms: Hard drives don’t always fail out of the blue. Occasionally, warning signs appear, including:

  • low/poor performance;
  • frequent frosts;
  • BSODs;
  • corrupted data;
  • accumulation of bad sectors;
  • strange sounds.

I summarized all these signs in an article on how your hard drive is ending its life. . When you notice any of these signs, be sure to back up your data before it’s too late. After that, your only hope is to temporarily restore your hard drive to back up your data.

A sure sign that your hard drive or SSD has died is when the display turns on, the laptop lights flash, but nothing else happens. You may receive an error message saying that something is wrong with the primary boot device. However, if the laptop is completely dead — no sounds, no backlight, and nothing — and if you’ve checked the charger, it’s likely that the motherboard or one of its components has failed. In this case, skip to the end of this article.

Correction: If your HDD or SSD has died, you can fix your laptop by replacing it. This is usually very easy. Remove the old drive, get a new one with an identical connector ( IDE or SATA. ), and install them in place of the old drive. My colleague Matt demonstrated how to install a new laptop hard drive. in the previous article.

laptop hard drive

CMOS battery

The CMOS battery provides power to save BIOS settings when the computer is turned off.

Symptoms of bad CMOS: the laptop mostly boots up fine and everything looks fine except for a few minor issues:

  • That the system time and date are constantly reset ;
  • drivers stop working
  • sometimes the PC does not boot or just turns off;
  • there is a subtle CMOS error on boot;
  • and there are other weird hardware issues.

Any of these problems can be caused by several reasons. But if some of them match, that’s a sure sign that your CMOS battery is failing.

Correction: My colleague Chris previously wrote an article on replacing the CMOS battery. on a desktop PC. Even on a laptop, the procedure is not that complicated. The battery is usually accessible through the bottom of the laptop. On some models, like my old HP Compaq nw8440, it may be under the keyboard. In any case, it’s not as easy to access as RAM or HDD/SDD, as it doesn’t have its own door or panel. If you manage to uncover the motherboard as shown below, replacing the CMOS battery is just a matter of pulling it out and replacing it with a new one.

Notebook CMOS Battery


RAM is your computer’s short-term memory. It temporarily stores any information that the system needs to work.

Symptoms of bad RAM:

  • The laptop does not boot and may beep;
  • BSOD during installation of the operating system;
  • random crashes or BSOD during normal operation crash ;
  • crashes when launching programs that use memory intensively.

Correction: If your computer still boots, run a memory test. memory to check for errors, for example using MemTest86 .

If you’re lucky, one of your flash drives may not be sitting properly in its slot. Open the latch on the underside of the laptop to examine the flash drives. take them out and reinstall them.

Laptop RAM

If this doesn’t solve your problems, and if you only have one flash drive, try moving it to a different slot. If you have two flash drives, try booting the computer with the flash drive removed and try both flash drives in different slots.

If none of this works, try getting a working RAM module for a final test, but make sure you can return it in case something else turns out to be broken.


Until recently, I thought the display was almost impossible to fix. And then I dropped my laptop and my display was toast.

Symptoms: other than the obvious damage to the display, your display may not turn on at all. In this case, try connecting an external monitor to avoid damaging the motherboard.

Corrected: If everything works fine with the external monitor, chances are you can fix your laptop by replacing the broken display. Earlier, I described the process of dealing with a broken screen on your laptop. deal with a broken screen on your laptop. deal with a broken screen on your laptop. . It’s not easy, but it can often be done without special tools or skills, and it’s surprisingly affordable.

Broken laptop display

What to do if your laptop is broken beyond repair?

Sometimes damage cannot be detected with any relatively easily replaceable parts. When the motherboard, CPU, or GPU is damaged, or when one of the parts just can’t be easily replaced, it’s best to salvage any parts that are still functioning. and dispose of the remaining e-waste.

Have you ever repaired an old laptop? What part was broken and how did you fix it?

Image credits: Zombie Powerbook Via Flickr

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